The Bottom Line
Victor Hugo was born in Caracas, Venezuela, later moving to the U.K. His brand of salsa is more in the Colombian vein than Cuban or Puerto Rican, his voice an expressive and impressive instrument that has a wide range, from breathy croon to a strong, demanding vocalism. Que Pasa is an album full of surprises, from a salsa version of "Mona Lisa", through the English language ballad "Island Girl". Entertaining and danceable, there are no bad or boring tracks on this exceptional album.
- "Oye Latino", a track that will have you up and dancing no matter where you are
- 12 tracks, mostly salsa, mostly written by Venezuelan Hugo
- Musical direction by Julio Cortes
- With the help of ex-Grupo Niche and Son de Cali musicians
- Released by LAS Records
Guide Review - CD Review: Victor Hugo - Que Pasa
This is my first experience with Victor Hugo, and I put the album on in the car (where it was difficult to escape, if I didn't like it). The first track, "Si Supieras" starts with Hugo using his lighter tenor voice, and my first thought was, "Oh, no, a little soft, breathy guy". Then I couldn't help thinking how very crisp the brass was, how much I liked the spoken, rather than sung, background voices. By the time the track was done, I was wowed by Hugo's vocal dynamics, because he'd gradually moved from that original, soft sound to a strong, gutsy fortissimo. That was all in track #1.
The next track, "Como Quieras Que Te Qquiera" started out with an acoustic, almost flamenco, guitar sound, soon joined by bell-like brass. Then came a salsa version of the classic "Mona Lisa", followed by a lyrical ballad, "Island Girl", the one English language track on the CD. My very favorite track is "Oye Latino", starting with a wonderful 'guajira' rhythm and then rocking out.
Victor Hugo was born in Caracas, Venezuela but moved to the U.K. to study filmmaking. His big break came when Charlie Palmieri asked him to replace Hector Lavoe on a European tour. He's had a number of bands and recorded previous albums, but I don't believe they've been big hits in the U.S. I also think it's about time that changed.
I could go on and talk about why I loved every single track on this CD, many of which were composed by Hugo, but I'll let you judge for yourself.
I am grateful to him for the 'Mona Lisa' track, a song I've hated for 20 years ever since I heard a sleezy version of it done in a Roman nightclub (why can't you get horrible musical moments out of your mind?). I think listening to his salsa version might wipe out that unfortunate memory.